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Solar systems can be economically feasible for many farmers and other commercial operations, say the owners of a Mississippi solar firm. Technological advances, government assistance, the need for reliable power, and the growing urgency to reduce the use of fossil fuels is making renewable energy systems increasingly attractive, they note.
But for businesses, particularly in the TVA’s territory, the incentives could result in a payback of from six to 12 years before factoring any depreciation. The IRS allows rapid depreciation for solar, and some businesses have reported payback of less than five years with zero salvage value.
That could be the case for many of the state’s poultry operations, Carolyn says.
Poultry production is a major enterprise in Leake County and several surrounding counties; a Tyson poultry plant near Carthage processes some 2.5 million birds weekly and has 2,000-plus employees.
“Poultry farming is an energy-intensive business,” she says. “Enormous tunnel fans are required to ventilate the houses during the hot summers. Lighting adds to the energy costs.
“Solar can really change the life of a poultry farmer. Most poultry houses are oriented so they have a south-facing roof, which is optimum for capturing sunlight.
“We did a study showing that if all the estimated 8,000 poultry houses in Mississippi installed solar arrays, that industry alone could offset 10 percent of the state’s electrical use from conventional generating plants.”
A 48-panel solar array at nearby Pope Farms has resulted in significant savings in electricity costs for the poultry operation, and owner Spencer Pope is planning to add another 180 panels.
Solar systems can cut costs for other agricultural operations — boat houses, horse barns, and a wide variety of applications, Will says. In addition to potential savings on energy costs, the systems help reduce environmentally-harmful carbon emissions.